the agony of vacation


Four women are sitting around a table eating dainty salads and drinking Mimosas at a wedding shower. The soon-to-be-bride is marveling at her new silverware and dishes and we mature women who would rather use paper and plastic are discussing her Los Angeles wedding we’ll attend in July.

That puts us on the west coast of America at exactly the time we’d rather be on the east coast of America because it’s warmer in the ocean. Why sit at a beach without the opportunity to cut your feet on jagged shells, plunge until your heart stops, then lose your bikini bottom in a roll of punishing waves?

How about going from L.A. to Hawaii? Too far.

Colorado? No water.

The California parks? Too crowded.

How about San Francisco, San Diego? Who wants to be in a city in summer?

How about flying back to the East Coast? Such a waste!

Mexico? Too hot.

North to Alaska? Too, too cold.

How about coming back home and staying put. Boring!

So let’s do the California beaches and forget the swimming. So sad!

“At least we’re traveling,” someone says, as if we don’t already know we sound as silly as the hat they’re making from ribbons and bows.

We glance at the trendy Mimosa bar set-up in a corner with bottles of champagne, fancy juices, plus strawberries and oranges for toppings. We go for refills.

Someone moans, “This wedding is going to kill me.”

So here we are at the beginning of the summer season and discussions like these, maybe with fewer groans, are being repeated all across this big land of ours. I’d say great land but it’s too reminiscent of the political climate and who wants constant turbulence followed by a rare but foreboding lull.

Still, a majority of people -- 74% according to a Harvard study -- find planning a trip the most stressful part of any vacation. And if the trip falls short -- if the company disappoints or the resort is really a hamburger joint in a parking lot -- you return home worse off than when you left.

We take a break from grumbling and listen to the “words of wisdom” guests have written on pink cards to share with our new bride. “Never go to bed angry,” “Be kind,” “Marriage isn’t 50-50, it’s 100-100,” “Compromise, compromise, compromise,” and “When you take a vacation, always remember to hire a travel agent.”

Wait a minute, who planted that?

Half of all Americans will take some sort of trip this summer -- mainly to the beach and parks, though some to cities and resorts. Americans will travel an average of 280 miles, for a total of 650 million miles from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Lots of people will spin their wheels -- hopefully in a different way than we are -- taking 90% of summer trips in a car.  

Deep in our angst, we watch as the cards are placed in a keepsake box. We advise the bride to pick one whenever things get tough, and not just in marriage: “These words apply to all of life,” someone says.  We are optimistic and reassuring, our advice flowing like our champagne:

“Pick your battles,” “Learn what’s important,” “Good enough is the new perfect,”  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

We laugh and applaud ourselves and give knowing nods. We hug the almost-bride and let her bask in our wise glow. Then we turn back to our trifling travel discussion and make ourselves totally, absolutely bonkers.

June 7, 2017

back to old time favorites

send me an e-mail